“It takes a village to raise a child.” This familiar African proverb effectively pinpoints the importance of social responsibility in raising children. As a Christian mother, Jessica wonders if the church is our “village”? How so? Is it necessary to enlist its help to “raise” our children?
by Jessica Ewing-Chow
I set out to ask Christian mothers about the challenges in bringing their children to and staying in church as a family. Similarly, I wanted to discover how the extended church community stepped up to “raise” the children in our midst.
THE CHURCH AS A COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
I believe that children also witnessed and partook in the life of the early church, even though they are not explicitly mentioned in the above passage.
In modern-day Singapore, the construct of families is shrinking, and with many living apart from extended families. The church thus plays a vital role in supporting members who are parents.
Many young parents, including myself, appreciate the gestures of care extended by church friends. A cell group-mate of mine is our ‘resident child-minder’. Whenever the cell group meets over meals, she ‘entertains’ the little ones, orders food or drinks for parents who are feeding their kids etc. We are very appreciative of the practical care she demonstrates. She is also noticeably missed when she is not around!
In attending church regularly, parents face challenging situations with their ‘young explorers’. I am grateful for a welcoming community in COR where patience and forbearance is exercised. Many of us do not feel ‘judged’ when our kids appear to cause distraction either by noise or movement.
SOUL CARE FOR MOTHERS
In my conversations with mothers, many shared of lonely times and feeling out of sync with themselves. They struggle with identity, balancing between family and work, coping with changes in their marriage and spiritual walk. All mothers, no matter the age of our children, inevitably feel a certain degree of the above. I am no exception. I’ve witnessed how mothers find creative ways to reach out to one another.
In Saturday Praise Service, we have a closed Facebook group for mothers. While providing a wonderful and safe means to share experiences, and even to give away pre-loved baby items, such virtual groups can never replace face-to-face interaction.
Perhaps this is an area we can do better. How can we reach out to and support young mothers? It is insufficient to mouth the cliched, “read the Bible, attend church, or don’t let your babies dominate your lives”. Too much of such ‘advice’ may cause negative feelings to reside.
One of the best encouragements I’ve heard is simply “God loves you. You are His beloved.” A mother needs to be affirmed of her identity as a child of God and treated as an individual. I cannot explain how many times simple words such as “How are you today?”, “You look fabulous!” or “Can I pray for you?” served to lift my spirit.
DISCIPLESHIP IS INTEGRAL TO THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH
Jessica is “COO” (Chief Operating Officer)/“OMO” (One-Man Operations) at her household or otherwise known as a SAHM (Stay-At-Home Mum). She worships at Saturday Praise Service with her husband Paul and two daughters, Elyssa and Emma.
This article first appeared in Issue 17, November 2017 CHORUS Magazine.